Baltimore, MD Residential Section Fire, Feb 1896
Strong men who were standing in the parlor turned their heads away when the two undertakers brought in the body of little six year old JAMES CHAMPLIN, grandson of MR. ARMIGER. A woman standing near the parlor door in the hall gave an exclamation and nearly fainted. The child was a blackened cinder. Smoke and fire had done their fearful work. Even the child's throat and nostrils were burned inside.
His little white night gown was dabbled and spotted with cinders and dark stains from the burned body.
The two RILEY children were killed by the suffocating smoke. They were not as badly burned as the others, but their faces were blackened from the bursting of blood vessels and the red fluid made crimson stains on their blackened night gowns.
"Oh, my God, but this awful, awful," said a man in a trembling tone. He kept repeating the words
"awful! awful!" as the undertakers with gentle hands laid the poor little victims in the waiting caskets.
Poor little MARIAN RILEY'S golden hair was matted about her face, where it had not been burned off. Strands of the silken tresses were embedded in the flesh. They had fallen there when the body was removed from the room and had dried in the burns.
The origin of the fire in now pretty accurately determined to have been from an overheated furnace pipe in the cellar. The pipe passes through a plaster partition and this first caught. Then it was communicated to the wooden ceiling of the cellar. Lucy Waters, the colored cook was the first to discover the fire.
She was in the kitchen adjoining the cellar. A glass window in between. She espied a bright blaze, and, rushing to the cellar door, found the ceiling already ablaze. With a shriek she ran from the room and rushed upstairs to the dining-room, where was ROSA JONES. Both them shrieked and rushed out of the house by the back way.
When Lucy first discovered the fire by opening the cellar door, she left it open, thus furnishing a draft. Nearby were the stairs, and through the cellar of the house was an areaway from top to bottom of the house. Up this rushed the smoke and heat. It was at this areaway and at the stairs that the firemen had all the work. Every part of the house had become hot and filled with smoke. All was completely extinguished at 2:15 p.m. and another search made for other bodies, but none were found.
On the second floor slept MR. and MRS. ARMIGER in the front room, and in a rear room the two daughters, Virginia and Elenora. The body of MR. ARMIGER was found on the third floor. He had evidently rushed up from the second story to rescue the children, for one was clasped in his arms.
On the third and fourth floors slept the others. The inmates from both floors attempted to reach bleow but could get no closer than the stairs of the third floor leading to the second. Heat and smoke choked the way.
Only one alarm was turned in for the fire. Three engine companies responded with the salvage corps, having in all forty men.
ALICE J. WILLIAMS, the colored servant girl, who jumped out of the third story window, was reported at 6 o'clock by the doctors at the City Hospital as being still unconscious and cannot live more than an hour.
The Morning Times Washington District of Columbia 1896-02-24